Human beings desperately search for peace in this troubled and chaotic world.
Often, we get away, or involve in activities like golf, fishing, going through a relaxing country drive, getting a massage or going for bushwalks to get some “peace”. We try to get away from all our troubles and the pressures of day to day living, but alas to our dismay, we find that this “peace” is short-lived. The truth is that soon we return to the realities of living in a chaotic and hectic world.
Is wealth and fame the answer to peace?
Judy Garland, despite her professional success in Hollywood, never found peace! She married five times and battled drug and alcohol addictions throughout her life and died at the age of 47.
Dolly Parton, the queen of country music, suffered from severe depression throughout the 1980’s even going so far as to contemplate suicide.
The apostle Paul teaches us how we can experience the inward peace that God wants us to have:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4: 6-9)
Paul highlights four keys to peace of mind:
In verse 6, we are exhorted “in everything by prayer and supplication….let your requests be made known to God.”
We can bring it to our God whatever is bothering us and causing us mental or emotional turmoil or distress and anxiety. Anything that is a matter of concern to us, is a matter of concern to Him and He is interested in the big things that happen in our lives as well as the small things.
When we come to God with the desires of our heart, it is important that we believe that God will answer our prayer and with faith wait patiently for His answer.
God always answers our prayers, by giving us what is good for us. At times He will answer our prayers precisely as we requested but on other occasions His answer will be different from what we expect. God sees the big picture and He gives us what is best in accordance with His infinite wisdom, love and power.
Our basis for our peace of mind is the knowledge and assurance that our God hears and He answers our prayers by giving us what is the best for us.
Paul states again in v.6 that we are to submit our requests along “with thanksgiving.”
When confronted with fear and worry, we always forget to look back and recount the many blessings that God has bestowed on us. He is indeed the source of all blessings.
Thanksgiving is responding to God’s grace even during troubles. In everything, Paul wrote, “give thanks.”
As John Newton wrote, “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come. Tis grace that has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.”
Not only do we give thanks for past blessings, but we constantly need to thank Him for the blessings that we enjoy now despite the current situation confronting us.
The psalmist states:
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good: For His loving-kindness is everlasting.
3. GODLY THINKING
In v.8 Paul wants us to exercise godly thinking and not to let our minds dwell on the negatives of our lives.
Our minds are to dwell on whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute. We should elevate our thinking above the earth and think on heavenly things. This is not positive thinking but godly thinking.
If we are not experiencing peace of mind, then we need to sit up and take a good look at the things we are watching, reading or listening to or the things that preoccupy our minds most and we will soon discover the source of our problem.
In verse 9 Paul exhorts us in obedience to practice the word of God in our daily lives.
When we live in obedience and seek to honour and please God, by doing His will, God blesses us with His peace.
When we live in wilful disobedience to God. His hand will be heavy on us as David discovered in Psalm 32:4, when he disobeyed God.
We live in a chaotic world, and yet in the midst of all this chaos, we can know “the peace that passes all understanding” by putting our trust in the Prince of Peace.